Wednesday, September 21, 2011

when the cure is worse than disease

Not even the best holiday is without mishap: lost sandals, or a hole in the mosquito net, or noisy neighbours--there's usually some little thing.  Our lovely holiday was not without incident.  On Sunday, while in the water, my daughter was stung by jellyfish.  Not a little sting, some fairly large tentacles wrapped around her wrist--she must have stuck her hand through a mass.  Anyway, it was painful and big--we've only dealt with much smaller stings in the past.  I had some antihistamine cream in my bag for just such an occurrence and was calmly applying it to my poor, whimpering  girl, when our boat driver came over to see what was the matter.  He said, lime, we need to put lime on it and he went off to find a lime.  I had a twinge of misgiving, but I let him put the  lime on her arm when he dashed back.  The lime did seem to soothe the sting and soon we were back on the boat looking for whales.

We continued to treat the sting with the antihistamine cream and it seemed to help, but it was strangely red, and by Monday night quite swollen.  On Tuesday morning it was blistering and very painful.  I knew it was the lime, as I recalled a friend's mysterious rash turning out to be the result of lime juice and sun exposure.  Google confirmed this; it's called phytophotodermatitis.  The reaction is not the same for everyone and my daughter's was definitely extreme. After a trip to the dermatologist and pharmacy,  she is doing much better.
actually quite improved this morning
 You might well wonder why I let the boat driver put the lime juice on my daughter's arm.   And honestly, I wish I had stopped him.  But, I let him. because I respect local knowledge.  He was not wrong, the lime did soothe the sting but combined with sunlight it was not a good idea.

A couple of years ago my husband developed a strange swelling on his leg.  Our nanny at the time, saw it and said with conviction, that's a torsalo (botfly).  My husband went to a doctor (two in fact) and was told it was an infected, ingrown hair.  He was prescribed antibiotics and sent on his way.  The swelling did not go away, in fact it became more painful and bigger.  When he was seeing an orthopedist about his sore knee, the orthopedist saw the swelling and said, that's a torsalo.  By this time the larvae was large and very painful to remove.  If we had listened to our nanny, my husband could have been saved a lot of pain.  And that is probably why I let the boat guy put lime juice on my daughter's arm.  I really don't know what I will do next time I am faced with folk wisdom.

1 comment:

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